From January 2015, the entire Woomera test and evaluation capability will be termed the ‘Woomera Range Complex’, comprising both the RAAF Woomera Test Range and RAAF Base Woomera.
The Woomera Range Complex is located in the north-west pastoral region of South Australia, with the operational area of the Range encompassed by the ‘Woomera Prohibited Area’, which covers a massive 122,000 square kilometres (roughly the size of England) of very sparsely populated ‘outback’ land. The range also includes the restricted airspace over the Woomera Prohibited Area. It is considered the largest land-based test and evaluation facility in the world, and is more than three times the size of the China Lake test range in California. The range has a 630km-long centreline.
The role of the Woomera Test Range is to provide a specialised operations environment in support of directed whole-of-Defence activities for the testing of war materiel and, other directed activities in the wider National interest. However, the range supports a wide variety of trials covering many defence related technologies including ground-based weapons systems, explosive ordinance and hazardous materials, and specialised force preparation activities. The WTR is managed by Headquarters, RAAF Woomera Test Range.
RAAF Base Woomera provides the essential operational support to the Range, and includes the Woomera airfield, hangars, technical areas and village.
The RAAF Woomera Test Range includes:
Woomera Prohibited Area, the large land mass weapons range used for the testing of war materiel
Woomera Restricted Airspace, the restricted airspace above the Woomera Prohibited Area
Woomera Camp Rapier, the secure garrison support and specialised training compound within the Woomera Prohibited Area
Nurrungar Test Area, the small specialised testing area just outside the Woomera Prohibited Area.
All other Commonwealth land including test facilities and infrastructure on the WPA
Principle capabilities include space (rocket) launch facilities, a fully instrumented air weapons range, demolition ranges and live firing ranges and target areas for both aircraft and artillery. Woomera is also the recognised home of military Unmanned Aerial Systems testing in Australia.
Most of the Woomera Test Range’s operational area is under pastoral lease or Indigenous ownership.
Areas around the Woomera Prohibited Area may be closed for short periods during testing. Exclusion periods are published by the Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office.
When flying, Air Force pilots and crews operate the aircraft in a way that minimises aircraft noise. Air Force has an honest and open approach about the noise experienced by residents living near our bases and training areas. Detailed information about aircraft noise, including Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) maps, is available at the Defence Aircraft Noise website or contact 1300 DEFENCE (1300 333 362).
A woomera is an Australian Aboriginal spear-throwing device described as “the most efficient spear-throwing device ever”. It is an enabling device that allows a spear to travel much further than with arm strength alone. The woomera is still used today in some remote areas of Australia.
The name ‘woomera’ comes from the Eora people, who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area, and has proven to be a most apt name, given that Woomera, as a strategic defence enabling capability, exists to enable the testing of war materiel to enhance the war-fighting effectiveness of the ADF.
The Range’s motto sharpen the spear, further alludes to its primary function in supporting the enhancement of the ADF’s war-fighting effectiveness.